Worli Illegal construction: Residents to pay for demolition too?
Even though the BMC has postponed the demolition by 3 day, residents of the illegal flats will have to bear the cost of their flats being razed.
Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation today postponed the demolition of the 140 illegal flats in the Campa Cola Compound in Worli to 3 May, citing logistical problems of mobilising workers on 1 May.
After issuing a 48-hour notice to evict the buildings on Friday, the BMC has granted the residents of Worli's Campa Cola compound a three-day extension. However, once the flats are demolished, the civic body will collect the cost of the demolition from those residents, which could be anywhere between Rs 2.5 crore and Rs 3 crore.
"A recent Supreme Court judgment has made it mandatory for public bodies to charge those involved in illegal constructions the cost of demolishing them," the HT reported today, quoting Mohan Adtani, additional municipal commissioner.
In 1984, the civic administration had issued a stop-work notice to the Campa Cola buildings that have added 35 floors illegally but did not take any further action, and soon all the flats were occupied. In 2002, the BMC assessed the amount of illegal construction and a magistrate imposed fines ranging from Rs 600 to Rs 2,000.
Apart from this, no other action was taken. Then in 2005, when residents approached the Bombay High Court seeking regular water supply, the matter resurfaced. The civic body assured the court that it would initiate action against the unauthorised construction, and in November 2005 issued fresh notices to all the buildings, which led to a fresh round of litigation.
Then finally on 27 February, the Supreme Court ordered demolition of the irregular floors and said the residents could not approach a government or political body for regularisation of the structures.
The apartments at Campa Cola compound are Midtown, Orchid Apartments, Patel Apartments (building A and B), Esha Ekta Apartments, Shubh Apartments, BY Apartments and Orchid. While the builders were given permission to construct only ground-plus-five floors, Midtown ended up having 20 floors, Orchid 17, Esha Ekta and Shubh eight, BY seven, and two wings of Patel six floors each.
Now, a total of 140 flats will be demolished, affecting around 400 people, many of whom are senior citizens.
The residents said since the Supreme Court order does not mention a specific time frame for demolition, they had not expected such a sudden notice from the corporation. Secondly, if the building was illegal, why did the BMC demand stamp duty and registration charges and collect property tax from the residents all these years, they asked.
They also pointed out that when the buildings were under construction, the BMC did not take any steps to stop the work apart from issuing notices to the developers, which were simply ignored.
"When we bought the flats, we were made to believe that the permissions were in the process of being cleared. If the builder defaulted on the permissions, why didn't the BMC take any serious action against the builders then?"asked Ajay Mehta, whose flat is on the BMC's demolition list
That the developer had not obtained the required permissions came to light only in 2005, after the occupants had been living at the compound for two decades.The residents are now willing to pay the penalties and fine for getting their flats regularised.
"A 2011 BMC circular says areas beyond the permitted FSI can be approved on payment of fines. We are ready to pay that, but the BMC kept ignoring it," Rohit Malhotra, a member of Campa Cola Compound Residents' Association.
"And now the SC has ordered us not to approach any government body or politician for help. Why is that?," he asks.
Meanwhile, residents of the legal flats are worried that the corporation would harm their floors while bringing down the unauthorised portions. "What assurance do I have that the razing will not cause any inconvenience to me?" asked a resident of the fifth floor.
However, the BMC has time and again reiterated that it has made all the arrangements to get the job done in a systematic and planned manner without causing any inconvenience to
The Supreme court has advised the residents to proceed against the builders. But residents claim that since one builder is dead, another is old and infirm and the third company went bust, there is no hope of recovering their money or saving their homes.
With demolition squads fast approaching, their only hope they say is the review petition they have filed in the Supreme Court. They have also embarked on a massive 'Save Campa Cola' campaign, including on social media sites.
New cases declined for the tenth straight day in the financial capital. On Thursday, 1,384 new COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths had been reported. Also, Dharavi recorded zero new cases on Friday after a gap of over a month, officials said
Senior counsel Anil Sakhre told the bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik that Mumbai was witnessing a gradual decline in COVID-19 cases in the current third wave of the pandemic.
The judgment, which came on an appeal against the Madras High Court verdict, dealt with the property rights of Hindu women and widows under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956